"It is a matter of great concern and indeed a shame for all Ghanaians that more than 60% of the country's budget comes from development partners," President John Agyekum Kufuor told the nation when addressing this year's People's Assembly, a concept introduced by his government in 2001 to give ordinary Ghanaians the chance to ask the president and his team of ministers questions on any issue relating to the development of the country.
"We must remember," the president cautioned, "that the assistance the country receives from its development partners comes from their taxpayers." Therefore, he said, Ghanaians must gird their loins and take their destiny into their own hands because "nobody will come from anywhere to develop the nation for us".
The theme for this year's assembly was: "Consolidating Ghana's democracy through peace, unity and development."
The president disclosed that the five priority areas of his government's development programme, namely infrastructure, agriculture, health, crime and chieftaincy, were all on course.
On infrastructure, Kufuor, who has just been re-elected by his party to run again in the 2004 elections, said the major arterial roads leading to and out of Accra had begun, and at least, one selected strategic road in each of the 10 regions of the country was being improved. This is in addition to a major feeder roads programme for all the regions.
In 2004, Kufuor will contest again against Prof John Arthur Mills, who has also been reelected by his NDC party (the party of former President Jerry Rawlings) as their presidential candidate. The two men ran against each other in the December 2000 elections, dubbed "The Battle of the Two Johns".
At the People's Assembly, the second in the series, Kufuor said the expansion programme in telecommunications was well advanced and new telephone exchanges were being commissioned. In addition, an ICT (information, communication and technology) Centre of Excellence, which had been under construction would be opened in the middle of this year.
On the energy front, the president...